Father, daughter artist duo ready ‘Wings Across Westmoreland’
In a light-filled office space above Greensburg’s Main Street, Westmoreland Cultural Trust Incubator for the Arts artist Patrick Mahoney sketches local landmarks onto a pair of wings.
Nearby, his daughter, Riley Mahoney, 17, works on the wings’ exterior designs.
Inspired by a popular Art in the Alley public art project, the Trust is launching “Wings Across Westmoreland,” installing the wings with regional icons in local communities.
Three sets are complete — Jeannette, Ligonier and Vandergrift.
Images for the Ligonier wings, which will hang in the Town Hall courtyard, include Fort Ligonier, Linn Run State Park, Idlewild Park & SoakZone, Town Hall and the Ligonier Valley YMCA.
Sobel’s Obscure Brewery’s new microbrewery plans to be a host for the Jeannette wings. Visible are the Jeannette School District Jayhawk mascot, a Glass City glass blower, the brewery’s gnome mascot, the recently closed Keynote Cafe and Oakford Park.
“Jeannette was first to be on board with the project,” says Kelli Brisbane, Trust director of corporate engagement and events.
Ligonier and Vandergrift quickly signed up, too, she adds.
Vandergrift’s Casino Theatre’s wings include the theater, Riverside Drive-In, Wooden Door Winery and Festa Italiana di Vandergrift.
“Most (icons) came from suggestions,” Mahoney says.
Additional locations where community leaders have expressed interest in a pair of wings include the Mt. Pleasant Area Public Library, West Overton Museums in East Huntingdon, and undetermined locations in Youngwood and Smithton.
More sites will be planned as funding becomes available, Brisbane says.
Partial funding for the project has been provided by the Westmoreland County Local Arts Grant Program through the Westmoreland County Bureau of Parks and Recreation.
“We only have grant funding ($945) for two pieces,” Brisbane says.
Remaining Art in the Alley funds and future grants/fundraising will pay for the third and additional sets of wings, she says.
Community partners and businesses can make donations towards the initiative.
Mahoney is creator of the original set of wings. Containing significant Greensburg locations, including the Palace Theatre’s marquee, county courthouse and White Rabbit Cafe and Patisserie’s logo, the wings are a popular selfie spot.
They also turn up in social media posts through the hashtag #WCTsArt intheAlley.
“I do all of the outside design work,” says Riley Mahoney, a senior at Greensburg Salem High School.
She’s also worked on previous Art in the Alley projects.
“She’s a chip off the old block,” her proud father says. “At the last ArtsWalk, she sold her painting before I did.”
Mahoney’s wife, Jill McNair, helps as well, he says, by researching potential community landmarks for the wings.
The family relocated to Greensburg from California several years ago.
“One of my favorite things about this part of the country is all of the architecture, all of the ornate care put into the buildings,” Mahoney says.
He’s happy to see his original idea taking flight.
“I was very excited to leave my mark on a much wider radius,” he says.
Finding their homes
The 46-by-97.5-inch wings are first painted on canvas before a high-resolution photo of the work is enlarged. Rob Fejes from Fejes Signs in Jeannette prints the wings on vinyl, adheres them to a metal sheet, cuts and installs the wings.
Project planners want to find “distinctive spots, vibrant areas” for the wings, Brisbane says.
“We started with our Greensburg wings. It’s always been our goal to expand them throughout Westmoreland County,” she says.
Jackie Sobel, one of Sobel’s Obscure Brewery’s owners, says she anticipates the brewery will open next summer.
“We have been working really closely with the city of Jeannette, and the Westmoreland Cultural Trust approached the city and asked if anyone was interested or would be a good candidate,” she says.
“Diana Reitz (city community development coordinator) approached us about the project. … Our (brewery) moving in seems to be spurring a lot of revitalization. And we have some nice wall space on the outside of our business,” Sobel says.
Aiming for the new business to help generate tourism, she says the wings will help educate out-of-town visitors about the city’s history.
“The wings depict the history, whatever you want, and you can interact with the artwork, which I thought was so cool,” Reitz says.
“We thought with the amphitheater across the street (from the microbrewery), we have the traffic flow. We’ve been embracing the arts, culture and music, and thought this would be great,” she adds.
“I love it because when you look at it from a distance, it looks like a set of wings. But up close, it depicts everything about the community. They are beautiful. … It makes you feel good. That’s what it’s supposed to do. It’s a positive addition to our downtown. I’m excited to see it,” Reitz says.
Brisbane anticipates installation of the first sets of wings will begin in September.
Mary Pickels is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Mary at 724-836-5401, [email protected] or via Twitter .